In the second instalment of our 2022 Mother's Day series, Cecelia Koch shares her intimate story of losing her mother to cancer. In this reflection, Cecelia shares the impact that her Christian mother had on her life and how she's been able to find hope in her grief. We hope that this piece can be of comfort to our readers!
I brought my face close to Mum’s and kissed her soft cheek.
“Goodnight Mumma, I love you”.
I said this just as I had done many times, over the last 24 years. Although, this time I expected to hear only silence. My Mum was fighting her last days with Cancer. She hadn’t been conscious or able to talk for a few days, but to my complete surprise, Mum’s eyes suddenly opened. She looked up at me, straight in the eye and replied:
“Goodnight darling, I love you too”.
She spoke these familiar words in the same loving tone as she had always done. I was speechless. I stared longingly at her, wondering where this strength had come from, and wishing she could stay with me longer. She held my gaze for a few seconds, reading my face without me needing to say a word, and then her eyes shut again. She passed away two days later. I never heard her voice again. This memory epitomised Mum. She was strong, gentle, determined and always had strength to love.
Mother’s Day is a day I’ve tended to avoid. I avoid the TV and radio. I avoid social media and the onslaught of Mother’s Day posts. Mother’s Day is a painful reminder that my Mum isn’t here. I can’t spend the day with her, I can’t give her flowers, a hug, or take her out for coffee. I can’t share my life with her.
Today was one of those days I was prepared to not think too much about, until a friend messaged me. She’d never met my Mum but texted to say that she was thinking of me, and that my Mum must have been an amazing woman. It made me pause and reflect. Yes, she was an amazing woman.
I celebrate that this isn’t the end...I can’t wait to stand with her once again, and with the even more beautiful and glorious One that she reflected.
This is something I celebrate today. I’m thankful for Mum’s love, her graciousness towards others, her optimism, her genuine and sacrificial care, her wise counsel, her love of people and cultures, and the craziness and fun that she brought into life. I love that she seemed to understand life, was quick to forgive, and that she could understand a person so deeply that she would know exactly where they were at.
I loved listening to her talk about God and how He was working in her life, even during those hard days over her last 2 years. God gave her joy, hope and an unshakable trust in Him. I’m thankful that Mum’s character and faith was shaped so much by the grace and forgiveness that she had been shown through Jesus, such that this radiated from her life.
This Mother’s Day even though I can’t celebrate with Mum in person I celebrate the amazing gift that she was. It is a hard day. But I celebrate that this isn’t the end. I’m thankful that Mum is now home with her Creator and Saviour. I can’t wait to stand with her once again, and with the even more beautiful and glorious One that she reflected.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
- Ecclesiastes 3:11
Enjoyed this read? Read the rest of the series!
Ahead of Mother’s Day (Sunday 8 May), we will be sharing stories from Christian women who will share what this special day means for them. Whether Mother's Day brings about feelings of joy, grief or a mix of both, we hope that this series can be a celebration of all the mothers and mother figures in our lives.
In this reflection, KCC team member, foodie and first-time Mum, Kat Fernandez, shares the joys and challenges of motherhood, and how her faith in God makes her parenting distinct. We hope you are encouraged by her words!
1. Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m Kat, 29, born and raised in Sydney. I have been married to Josh for almost four years and this year we welcomed our first baby boy, Leon. Josh and I both have parents who migrated to Australia from the Philippines. I love the Lord and have been a Christian since my early teens and I’m currently attending a Baptist Church in Western Sydney.
I enjoy dinner dates, weekend staycations and eating delicious food that releases our internal foodies. I used to own a food blog many years ago, so even though I’ve made the switch to Event Management, I still love to bake, take endless photos of food and secretly critique everything I eat as if I’m going to write a review about it later down the track.
2. What are the joys and challenges of being a first-time Mum?
If I can be honest, I have been met with mostly challenges in my first three months of motherhood. Of course the joys are there, but this newborn stage is tough! The biggest adjustment and challenge for me was the transition into motherhood. It wasn’t exactly smooth and no matter how much preparation I did in the lead up, I felt it was either thrown out the window or I didn’t prepare enough. For example, I couldn’t know what my baby’s temperament was going to be like during the day. Would he sleep, would he scream and cry, would he cluster feed? So as someone who thrives on schedules, routines and having everything planned and in order, I was forced to embrace flexibility, spontaneity and messiness.
However, with that said, in these three months I have experienced joy with each development and growth spurt he goes through. It’s a joy to watch him change and grow, knowing that my husband and I have the pleasure of nurturing him through these significant life stages. It’s mind blowing how the little things he does can bring so much joy. Like when he finally can hold his head up when he does tummy time, when he talks to me when I read to him, when he gives a huge burp after he feeds or when he finally does a poop after a long day!
3. What does being a Christian Mum mean to you? What makes Christian motherhood distinct?
Before we became parents, my husband and I joined the parenting class that was offered at my church to learn about how we could raise our son God’s way. This meant a lot to both of us because we wanted to make sure we had the right foundations in this new stage of life. We needed to be on the same page on how we would raise him.
I think this is what makes Christian motherhood (or Christian parenthood) distinct. God has planned for and called me to be a mother, so I must bring my son up to know and love the Lord. It’s my duty, alongside my husband, to be an example to him and to instill in him the biblical teachings and Christian values that will shape his life so he too will know Jesus as his personal Saviour. I can only trust that God will soften his heart as he grows so he can follow this path too.
4. How does knowing God the Father shaped your parenthood so far?
When I was really struggling the first few weeks of parenthood, I had to seek some counselling. My counsellor asked me at one point during a session ‘‘what’s motivating you to keep on going?”. I remember answering two things. One, that despite how difficult this all is, I knew God was not going to let me go. He’s got me. I know my strength comes from Him and I know that, like anything else in my life, He is there and I can get through it because of Him. And secondly, because of my love for Him, I love my husband and I love my son and it’s my responsibility to be there for them as wife and mother. God planned this for my life and I am to embrace it wholeheartedly.
After this session, I remembered to keep this always at the forefront of my mind. Knowing God the Father has been pivotal in my motivation to be a good wife to my husband and be a good mum to my son. It has helped me to have a better attitude through difficult situations. I can’t just throw in the towel, give up and say ‘I’m done’. Sure, it is not easy, I fail multiple times. I am definitely far from perfect. I still stress and complain. I still don’t know how I am managing to get through the day on minimal sleep. But I am always reminded, especially by my husband, to pray and seek God’s counsel and guidance, to forgive me for my failings and to help shape me into the mother He wants me to be for my son.
"God has been reminding me to live out the fruits of the Spirit...There’s a whole extra level of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that I am learning as a mother."
5. What is something God has been teaching you in parenthood so far?
So far, I think God has been reminding me to live out the fruits of the Spirit during this time. As Christians, the fruits of the Spirit are qualities of character that we are instructed to live out, but in the case of motherhood, I feel like all of these qualities are just heightened and are on another level that I have never experienced or thought of before. There’s a whole extra level of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that I am learning as a mother.
When my baby is crying and I have tried everything I possibly can to calm him down, I have to practise more patience, kindness and gentleness than I ever have before. When my baby smiles at me in the early hours of the morning when I have to feed him despite how exhausted I am, I feel more love, joy and peace than I could have imagined, and in this moment can only thank God for the gift of motherhood. It is a conscious daily effort and is a lot of hard work to put these into practice, but it’s something that God has been teaching me and strengthening me to keep on learning.
Enjoyed this read? Read the rest of the series!
1. Wen Wei Chieh (Jeanette Li), China
“He [God] used sickness and death to break up the home in which I had been lovingly nestled. But He did not cast me off and forsake me. As the eagle He ‘spread forth His wings, caught me up in his wings,’ and carried me even to His own Home to become his child, and obtain such blessing and peace and joy as this world cannot give.”
Born in 1899, Wen Wei Chieh was a Chinese missionary who remained steadfast in the face of arrests, imprisonment and torture. Wei Chieh converted to Christianity when she became dangerously ill with a fever and was admitted into a mission hospital where she would cry out to her dead father. Her treating physician, Dr. McBurney comforted Wei Chieh with the truth of her loving “heavenly Father”, and from that moment, Wei Chieh prayed to God and believed. At a time when many were abandoning the faith, Wei Chieh felt a great call towards the evangelization of China, serving in a mission orphanage and standing firm in her public witness. Despite the ongoing threat of arrest and imprisonment, Wei Chieh insisted on travelling everywhere with the Bible, claiming: “If the Lord allows me to go, the Bible will cause no difficulty or trouble.” She spent the latter years of her life serving the Chinese community in Los Angeles and penning her autobiography, ‘Jeanette Li: A Girl Born Facing Outside’.
2. Anatoly Berezhnyi, Ukraine
Anatoly Berezhnyi was a 26-year-old member of Irpin Bible Church (IBC), an evangelical church on the frontlines of feeding, housing and evacuating Ukrainians from Russian shelling. After sending his wife to safety, Berezhnyi selflessly returned to Irpin to help his church protect civilians from Russian advance. On Sunday 6 March, Anatoly lost his life while helping a young mother and her two children access evacuation buses across a collapsed bridge. According to his Pastor, Mykola Romanuk, Anatoly was a “deeply spiritual man with a good Christian character. When he saw a need, he tried to help.”
3. Esther Anh Kim, Korea
“I knew it would be impossible for me to keep my faith in my own power. God would have to work through me if I was to stand firm.”
Esther Anh Kim was a courageous Christian woman who lived in Korea during Japanese occupation. She converted to Christianity after observing her mother’s faith in Jesus—a decision that would ultimately lead her into prison where she stood in bold defiance against demands to bow to Japanese gods and shrines. To prepare herself for the harsh conditions, Esther fasted for days, slept in the cold, and memorised more than 100 Bible chapters and hymns. Once detained, Esther faithfully shared God’s love to other prisoners, and brought many to Christ. In 1945, Japan surrendered, and Esther moved to the United States to attend seminary and planted a church in Los Angeles with her husband, Don Myun Kim. She went to the Lord in 1977 after a battle with Alzheimer’s. She documents her story in the book, 'If I Perish’.
4. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Germany
“The Church is the Church only when it exists for others...not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.”
Born in 1906, Dietrich Bonhoeffer served as a German pastor and theologian during World War II. He rose to leadership during the rise of the Nazi regime, and at a time when church leaders refused to speak up, he stood firmly against Hitler’s anti-Semitism policies. This forced Bonhoeffer to teach underground and to briefly seek asylum in the United States, but he returned to Nazi Germany, unable to abandon his responsibilities to his friends and people. Bonhoeffer was arrested for his involvement in helping Jews flee the country and was hung in April 1945 when his involvement with Abwehr, a group dedicated to the assassination of Hitler was discovered. A camp doctor who witnessed Bonhoeffer’s hanging describes his last moments: “I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer....In the almost 50 years that I have worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God."
5. Amanda Berry Smith, America
“Since then, I have been a widow, and have traveled halfway round the world, and God has ever been faithful. He has never left me a moment; but in all these years I have proved the word true, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end."
Born into slavery, Amanda Berry Smith was used by God as a preacher, missionary and founder of the Amanda Smith Orphanage. By her early thirties, Smith had already lost two husbands and four out of five children. After losing one husband in the American Civil War, Smith worked extra hours as a cook and washer woman, but ultimately turned to God and trusted in Him to provide for her. Immersing herself in religious activities and meetings to curb her depression, Smith soon became well-known for her powerful preaching of the gospel in the South. This prepared the way for overseas mission, where she was invited to preach in India and African countries of Liberia and Siera Leone. On returning to the United States, Smith founded the very first orphanage for Black children in Illinois, housing 33 children by 1910. Her persistence and humility in suffering earned her the description of “God’s image carved in ebony”.
What does following Christ look like in a world where culture pushes us to seek our own comfort and safety first?
Are we prone to seeking out a 'safe' faith, and how do we have courage for obedience when we are faced with fear?
At Katoomba Easter Convention (KEC) 2022, we will hear Bible talks aimed at expanding our vision of God so that we can be empowered to persevere with a grit that follows Jesus, all the days of our life.
This year, we are pleased to host a combination of local and international speakers including Matt Fuller, Russell Moore, Sam Chan, Malcolm Gill and Jonathan Dykes. Together, they will open God’s word to explore the theme, “True Grit: God’s Call to Fortitude in a World of Fear”.
Visit our website for tickets or more information.
With only one week left to go, the Katoomba Easter Convention (KEC) team has put together a list of ways to prepare your hearts, minds and families for the event this April! Feel free to share this list with your family and friends.
1. Prepare your heart for Easter with our 2022 LENTEN Sessions on the KCC One App
To encourage you in your practice of Lent, we have released a complimentary 4-week video resource on the KCC One App. Produced by L-T Hopper and musicians Brayden and Matilda, each session will reorient your heart towards Jesus and His atoning work at the cross.
To follow our 2022 LENTEN Sessions, check out the Watch section of the KCC One App. Follow the link below to access and download all our free devotional content: kccone.org.au
2. Lend a helping hand as a volunteer
KEC relies on the power of volunteers who help to facilitate God’s Word preached from the platform. We are still in need of some help on our Logistics and Ushering teams, so if you are willing and able, please sign up to volunteer here: easterconvention.com/volunteer
3. Get the latest updates on social media
Make sure that you’re following KEC on Facebook and Instagram to receive the latest updates leading up to convention. It’s also a fun way to interact with us during KEC, especially during our live interaction segments.
4. Start meditating on passages that will be preached at KEC22
This year we are pleased to host a combination of local and international speakers including Matt Fuller, Russell Moore, Sam Chan, Malcolm Gill, and Jonathan Dykes. Together, they will open God’s word to explore the theme, “True Grit: God’s Call to Fortitude in a World of Fear.”
In the lead up to KEC, we encourage you to meditate on the following passages which have been chosen for the KEC 22 program:
5. Book an unforgettable experience with Fantastic Aussie Tours
Our friends at Fantastic Aussie Tours have put together some great tour options for KEC delegates to enjoy in the afternoons! Here are the options available:
6. Play your part in keeping KEC COVID-Safe
All KCC events will be COVID-safe and compliant with health regulations and up-to-date government requirements. Some things may look a little different to the usual, but it will still be just as wonderful an event as you are used to!
To play your part in keeping KEC COVID-Safe, please familiarise yourself with the measures we’re taking here: easterconvention.com/covid-resource/
7. Make sure you’re fully registered
In 2022 we’re offering both livestream and in-person options so that no one misses out! In 2022, delegates will be offered 1 of 4 ticket types: